The Australian Prime Minister says there is no point in the US continuing to pursue Assange

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By Webdesk

The WikiLeaks founder has spent years in a British prison as he fights extradition to the US on charges including espionage.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has expressed frustration with the United States’ continued efforts to extradite WikiLeaks founder and Australian citizen Julian Assange, who has spent the past four years in a high-security prison in the United Kingdom as he fights the case .

Albanese, who is in the UK for the coronation of King Charles III, said he was frustrated that there had not yet been a diplomatic solution to the matter and concerned about the mental health of the now 51-year-old.

“There is nothing served by his continued incarceration,” Albanese told the ABC in an interview on Friday.

Albanese said Assange’s case should be examined in terms of whether the time he had “effectively” served was more than a “reasonable” sentence if the charges against him were proven.

“I’m just saying enough is enough,” Albanese said.

“I know it’s frustrating, I share the frustration. I can do no more than make my position very clear and the US government is certainly very aware of the Australian government’s position,” he added.

Assange, an Australian citizen, has battled for years in British courts to avoid his extradition to the US, where he is wanted on criminal charges including espionage for declassifying confidential US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.

He was initially arrested in London that year on charges of sexual assault in Sweden and two years later the British Supreme Court ruled that he should be extradited to Sweden to face those charges.

Assange then broke bail to settle in Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he applied for asylum.

British police forcibly removed him from the embassy in 2019 and the asylum offer was withdrawn. Sweden eventually dropped the rape allegations, but the extradition process over the leaks continued.

The UK approved his extradition in June last year, saying the courts had “not found it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process” to do so. However, it said that Assange could appeal, which he did.

Assange’s supporters say he is an anti-establishment hero who has been victimized for denouncing US misconduct in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that his prosecution is a politically motivated attack on journalism and freedom of expression. is.

US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who was accused of stealing the classified diplomatic documents and military files that WikiLeaks later published, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for her role in the leak, but the sentence was commuted by then US President Barack in seven years. Obama and she was released in 2017.

Albanese previously said he has advocated for Assange during meetings with officials of US President Joe Biden.

On Friday, he declined to say whether he would discuss the matter with Biden when Albanians host the US leader in Sydney on May 24 along with the leaders of India and Japan.

“The way diplomacy works … is probably not to predict the discussions you will have or have had with leaders of other nations,” Albanese said. “I will act diplomatically to achieve a result.”

Albanese said he did not want to get into a discussion about whether Assange’s alleged actions were right or wrong.

Originally, a British judge ruled that Assange should not be deported because his mental health problems would put him at risk of suicide if convicted.

That decision was overturned on appeal after the US issued a package of guarantees, including a promise that Assange could be transferred to Australia to serve any sentence.

“I am concerned about Mr Assange’s mental health,” Albanese said. “There was a court decision here in the UK that was overturned on appeal that also concerned Mr Assange’s health and I am concerned for him.”

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